Maybe one of the most dreaded things you could hear from your doctor about anyone important (including yourself) in your life – the C word.
Cancer is an illness that affects many people, and statistically speaking there may have been someone in your life that’s been affected, or you yourself have had this painful diagnosis before. It’s undoubtedly a terrible thing, no matter what the situation! Fortunately, we live in a time that is making amazing scientific advancements towards finding a cure, and questions are beginning to be answered.
CORE CAUSE OF CANCER?
From a genetic and environmental standpoint, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of cancer. Was it your DNA? Environmental toxins? Luck? A combination, as well as other factors?
The basics and biology of the root cause of cancer is a cell which replicates in the wrong way, and ends up causing a mass growth in the body (tumor). The replication of these cells are a result of something that’s known as mutagens. Mutagens are essentially anything that has the ability to change the DNA of your cells. These triggers (whatever they may be) cause normal and healthy cells to mutate into a cancerous one. Mutagens can be in the alcohol we drink, the cigarettes we smoke, the food we eat, the air we breathe, what we clean with, what we put on our skin, and our biology. This is why controlling the way we live our lives may possibly have the ability to reduce the risk of us forming this disease.
Like we mentioned, research is starting to look into various forms of therapeutic benefits that range from controlled studies with new drugs, to alternative forms such as herbal treatments, dietary treatments, as well as the cancer related benefits of essential oils. Further research needs to be done into the proven effects of essential oils such as rosemary oil, oregano oil, thyme oil, and more controversially cannabis oil (which you can read more about here: https://www.marijuanadoctorsflorida.net) If you are interested in learning more visit https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ for accurate, non-bias and up-to-date research studies on cancer and cancer treatments.
FOOD AS MEDICINE
Aside from the consideration of alternative therapies, as well as the most recent cancer research, and cancer-related therapies, there is a huge component of our every day lives that needs to be considered, and that’s diet.
Just as your diet can have an effect on modern day diseases such as atherosclerosis, and diabetes, what you eat can have a direct effect on your DNA and cellular structure. Our genes can determine how well we metabolize certain compounds, for example those who have a variation of the CYP1A2 gene metabolize caffeine slower and their risk for hypertension is increased if they have more than a couple of coffees a day.
We need to reinforce the fact that there are some causes of this disease which cannot be prevented, as your DNA may have already dictated a potential outcome, so no, going vegan or plant-based isn’t going to 100% prevent you from getting cancer. However, considering everything toxic that we’re exposed to on a day to day basis, diet and lifestyle changes can give you assurance that you’ve done everything you can in the way of prevention. By limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, not smoking, watching what you put on your body, and what you clean with, and eating a balanced diet, you are one step ahead into knowing that you did everything you could’ve.
If you’ve read any diet plan you’ll already know that what we eat often dictates how healthy we are, and the exercise we do makes up the rest. Diet is incredibly important because it’s what we are putting inside our bodies, and it can alter the biological processes that happen from within. For example studies suggest that people who consume a mediterranean diet , which is full of healthy oils, fresh vegetables and fruit, omega-3 rich fih and some meat, were less likely to contract the common forms of cancer, such as breast cancer. Whereas eating a diet which largely consists of processed foods can increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
The diets of several different societies and tribes have been studied for years, and as interesting as it is to see just how different diets are worldwide, it’s also interesting to see how diet and toxic exposure has influenced the type of disease that’s inherited within that specific society.
Another example is Okinawa, and certain areas of Japan, as they have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Their food guide encourages the population to follow a diet low in saturated fats and processed foods, and high in healthy and complex carbohydrates such as rice and vegetables. They’ve found that people who closely follow this guide had a 15 percent lower mortality rate, and were less likely to develop conditions linked to poor blood flow to the brain.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR DIET
There are so many things to consider when trying to build a diet that promotes longevity, and a lot of these considerations are complicated, and science-based. Getting into it all on a biological level is a confusing and overwhelming thing, especially if you don’t have a nutrition or science background. So we’re going to take the confusion out of it all and tell you the basics.
Processed food is generally filled with ingredients that are not only toxic to your body, but have a negative effect on your gut bacteria (which makes up most of your immune system), your hormones, your detox pathways, and your lymphatic system. Sugar and highly refined oils have a negative effect on your gut bacteria, and the linings of your arteries. Processed meat and animal fats in excess can wreak havoc on your body systems as well.
Suffice to say, excess processed food, sugar, and animal products generally cause altered bodily functions, and are the building blocks of what we call the North American Standard American Diet, which we love to call the SAD DIET.
The key, and most simple way to put this is that in order to build a diet that is filled with carcinogenic fighting nutrients, and a diet that supports proper detox pathways, you need to cut the crap!
We don’t mean it in a nasty way, we just mean you need to examine what you eat on a day to day basis and find ways to significantly reduce your intake of processed foods, sugar, excess animal products and rancid oils, and focus on whole foods, cooked from scratch, with heavy emphasis on healthy fats, complex carbs, and healthy sources of protein.
Emphasize plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, as well as plant based proteins such as beans, legumes, tempeh, and organic, sprouted soy (in moderation). Another consideration is making a switch from processed and white flour, to whole grains, and increasing your intake of probiotic rich foods such as miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi.
All whole foods have specific nutrients that emphasize health in one areas of the body or another (or plenty), you can visit Worlds Healthiest Foods http://whfoods.org/ to get a complete breakdown of any food or herb’s nutritional profile, and what those specific nutrients that food consists of does for the body from a preventative aspect.
For example, the antioxidant lycopene (found in tomatoes and watermelon) has been said to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and have cardiovascular benefits.
MEAL PLAN IDEAS:
Breakfast: Easy Overnight Oats, free-range eggs with veggies, full-fat Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, whole grain cereal with dairy-free milk (nut milks), oats with chia/ flax seeds and fresh fruits.
Lunch: protein packed salad including your favourite leafy greens, beans and tomato, avocado and sweet potato. You can also use different vegetables, as long as you incorporate some healthy fats and protein into the dish. Veggie loaded soup, such as this Winter Squash Soup or a veggie loaded sandwich, such as this Mashed Chickpea Sandwich.
Snacks: Organic apple with nut butter, a handful of strawberries or grapes. Pack yourself a small hummus with Mary’s Crackers or veggies to dip, brown rice cakes with peanut butter and cinnamon, or a handful of raw nuts and seeds with some dark chocolate chips.
Dinner: Eat your favourite dairy-free rice or pasta dish using whole grains (such as brown rice or spelt pasta) and simply add extra veggies to the sauce, and eat a salad on the side. You can always reduce your starch portion size, and bulk up with greens. You could have a jacket potato with black beans, Vegan Chili or wild salmon with salad.
Dessert: Turn frozen banana and strawberry into a healthy ice cream using a blender. There are some more healthy ice cream ideas here.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER:
Fiber is found in all fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grains and beans. The purpose of fiber is to keep the digestive system clean and healthy, so that your colon can do its job as a detox organ, and remove unwanted waste. There are many toxins that can contribute to cell mutation, and having healthy detox pathways can help eliminate these toxins efficiently.
Fat plays a crucial role in energy production, metabolism, brain health, hormone health, and believe it or not, weight loss. The problem doesn’t lie in whether or not you should be eating fat (be it saturated or unsaturated), it lies in what types of fat you’re eating and the quantity.
Like anything, too much in excess isn’t good (even antioxidants), and quality control has a huge picture in whether or not a fat is healthy for you or not. Eat whole, healthy fats such as salmon, avocado, nuts and seeds. Use oils properly and aim for cold-pressed, organic vegetable oils raw or on low-heat, and use stable oils, such as coconut, ghee or avocado for higher temperatures.
The goal with fats is to minimize highly processed, rancid oils that have oxidized (high temperatures do this), so that there is less oxidative stress on the body, causing free-radical damage to the body.
Cut down on sugar
Processed and refined carbs, such as white flour (think pastries, white pasta, white bread), as well as refined sugar have the ability to cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Rather than eating white bread, pasta, drinking sugary drinks and alcohol, you can reach for healthy alternatives, such as; whole grain and seed bread, whole grain pasta, gluten-free pasta, or use a spiralizer for veggie noodles. Swap the sugary drinks for fruit infused water, and balance your blood sugars with protein, fiber and healthy fats. These small changes can make a huge difference to your body without you having to miss out on your favourite meals.
Limit red and processed meats
Red meat provides a large chunk of protein, but it also brings with it a lot of saturated fat and is said to be pro-inflammatory, if consumed in large quantities. Ideally you only want to be consuming red meat once each week, maximum, and aim for healthier sources. Here are some tips on our Healthier Ways To Enjoy Meat.
Another thing to consider is cutting back on processed meats. There are a few types of processed meats that many of us eat regularly, such as bacon, sausages, pepperoni, salami and hotdogs. These meats, in large quantities are especially associated with an increased risk of colon cancer, so limiting them in your diet can definitely become beneficial. Instead, stick to fresh meats and make your meals from scratch so you know exactly what goes into it.
These are just a few tips to get you started with a diet that will hopefully keep you healthy, for life. Remember, changes don’t happen overnight, they often take time, but if you ease into a more whole food way of eating, and are constantly working towards a better diet, eventually you’ll get to a place you feel happy and comfortable being in.
*This is a collaborative post.